BMW Neue Klasse X First Look: Peering Into The Future of BMW

BMW leads carmakers into the future with its concept-turned-production Neue Klasse X electric SUV with its museum-quality exceptional looks and robust tech.

The Bmw Neue Klasse X Concept Suv
The BMW Neue Klasse X concept SUV. Photo: Scotty Reiss Credit: Scotty Reiss

This is What the New Ultimate Driving Machine Will Look Like 

Perfection is achieved when there’s nothing left to take away, says Julia deBono, studio director of BMW’s DesignWorks

She also describes the new face of BMW, the Neue Klasse (say it ‘noya classa’): simplified, but with heritage details. Modern, but with familiar lines. Technology-filled but intuitively human. And, BMW promises, fun to drive, which will only be a surprise if it’s not. 

Julia runs the studio that drives the design behind many of BMW’s models, including all of its “X” designated SUVs. It’s at this California studio that the new face of BMW, as well as its refined dedication to driving excellence, has evolved. 

We got a peek, as well as an introduction from Julia and her team, and had a chance to explore the newest concept, the all-electric BMW Neue Klasse X, which is expected to roll out as a production car next year. 

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Bmw Neue Klasse X Concept
BMW Neue Klasse X Concept. Photo: Scotty Reiss

A Transformation For BMW

Yes, the future is fragmented: Carmakers, including BMW, will continue to build gas-powered cars as long as consumers ask for them. But don’t count electric cars out; that is where much of the most exciting technology and innovation come from. Modern design that isn’t weighed down by the machinery required by gas-powered cars; materials that increase efficiency and contribute to sustainability; a “computer on wheels” approach that advances technology.

BMW takes all this to the next level in the Neue Klasse X. A concept car, BMW created this SUV to show off it’s new design language. And it is impressive. 

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The Front End Of The Neue Klasse X Is Accented By A Vertical Illuminated Dual Kidney Grille
The front end of the Neue Klasse X is accented by a vertical illuminated dual kidney grille. Photo: Scotty Reiss

A Refined Exterior Belies the Magic Inside

The Neue Klasse X concept was rolled out onto the roof of the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles to give us a first view of its elevated lines and classic boxy SUV shape, but with refined lines front and rear. The grille features the familiar kidney shape standing on end and accented by illuminated accent marks for daytime running lights on either side. They give the impression of motion, even when the car is standing still. 

The rear features two horizontal tail lights planted on either side of the tailgate. Both front and rear views are simple and elegant. Nothing left to take away. 

On both front and back you’ll see a monochromatic BMW logo in silver and white. Will this be the new badge of BMW? We can only hope so. 

Inside, the interior is stunning. BMW chose to show it in orange and creme fabric, made from recycled and renewable materials. Plant-based fabrics cover the seats and surfaces; reclaimed marine plastics make up some of the harder surfaces. Creme microsuede is at every touch point. 

And then, again, what is missing is what makes it perfect. Everyplace there was metal is now light, Julia told us. This approach softens the interior feel but sharpens the experience. You’re focused on what matters: the road and the car’s occupants. 

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The Front Seat Of The Bmw Neue Klasse X
The front seat of the BMW Neue Klasse X. Photo: Scotty Reiss

This Sculpted Interior Inspires Deeper Thinking About How We Drive

Looking at the interior features—seating, the steering wheel, the center console— you just feel fancy. It’s sort of like stepping into a modern mixed media sculpture. 

But lift your gaze toward the road ahead, which, of course, is the purpose of this concept, and it easily becomes your focus. It’s front and center without distraction thanks to the ‘squircle’ steering wheel, which is flat on top and bottom. Illuminated glass panels on top and bottom provide function. And a large pillar-to-pillar projection panel provides all the key information you need.

Take a longer look at this and consider that it’s not just a screen, it’s a head-up display panel. It can be customized to display the information you want to see and you can adjust its brightness. But unlike other HUDs, it sits low, spanning the width of the dashboard so as to not block your view of the road. 

Head Up Display In The Bmw Neue Klasse X
Head-up display in the BMW Neue Klasse X. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The effect is almost as if someone took your blinders off—blinders you never knew you were wearing—and suddenly you can see so much more while still having important information right in front of you. And it’s brilliant. 

BMW’s display technology is both innovative, in using a HUD display instead of a screen, and early-adopter, along with Lincoln and Lucid, which both recently introduced similar displays and squircle steering wheels.

To control the HUD, as well as other features, there’s a large multimedia touch screen. There, you can swipe to customize the HUD and set things like climate, radio and other functions. And there will be more to discover when the Neue Klasse X makes its way to production and then to dealerships. 

Seating In The Bmw Neue Klasse X
Seating in the BMW Neue Klasse X. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Escape to a Refined Space For Your Drive

Probably the most notable feeling the Neue Klasse X evokes is one of being in a refined space. As you do when walking into a stunningly designed hotel lobby or a chic clothing boutique. Every surface, every line, every color is by design, there to serve a purpose or evoke a feeling. 

The orange and creme upholstery and woven surfaces feel more “Ibiza” than “car;” the Eames-style seating has a modern, ethereal appeal; the glass roof, which spans from the windshield to the rear spoiler, evokes the feeling of unencroached space. 

The center console floats between the front seats rather than function as a foundation, and it further opens the space to light and air. It all works together elegantly. 

The Rear Of The Bmw Neue Klasse X
The rear of the BMW Neue Klasse X. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Advancing the Human-Machine Equation

We didn’t get a chance to try out a lot of the tech in the Neue Klasse X, but BMW described how it was developed. New systems will be “phygital” a blend of physical and digital. Systems are the result of “brain craft,” the use of AI tools to think through and evolve shapes and functions to reach conclusions that previously took generations of designs to reach, if they could be reached at all. 

The goal is to make mobility more human and more intuitive, to do more with less effort, to use technology to allow us to relax and enjoy the space when we like or to enjoy the challenge of the drive when we want to. So, allow the car to crawl through traffic and manage the stop and go while we tune the sound system, chat with a friend, set up our day. Then, take the wheel and drive the fun canyon roads or put down the windows and take in the air along the coast. The machine partnering with you to make your drive makes a good one is the goal.

The Glass Roof Is Expansive In The Bmw Neue Klasse X
The glass roof is expansive in the BMW Neue Klasse X. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Neue Klasse X Advances BMW’s Stride Toward Sustainability

As a fully electric car, the Neue Klasse X is not just efficient in its power train, which BMW says will have a longer driving range and faster charging. The company has also introduced more efficient tires and a more aerodynamic design to assist those goals. And then, it’ll be produced in an “iFactory” which will operate on renewable energy sources and incorporate recycled and renewable materials in the production of the car. 

And, further offer options to BMW’s buyers, who will still be able to choose gas, electric or a combination of both. Neue Klasse X won’t be a substitute for BMW’s popular SUVs, but rather complement them with a modern look, innovative tech and evolving human-centric design. 

Disclosure: I was a guest of BMW for this first look. Travel and accommodations were provided but all opinions are my own. Additionally, A Girls Guide to Cars may earn a commission from affiliate links in this story.

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss